Kay Khan - The Spirit of a Studio

 .  W H I R L I N G   D E R V I S H

Photography by C. Whitney-Ward

You can't always tell a book by its cover; and that holds true when you meet Fiber Artist KAY KHAN. Her serene, elegant exterior and whisper-soft voice belie the fact that her creative soul is a cauldron of swirling colors, textures and imagery that she manifests into painstakingly- layered and stitched -  totally unique -  fiber vessels and sculptural pieces.

The detailing is extraordinary.

 "Many of my vessels are first inspired by words, small words that allude to what I'm thinking," notes Khan. "And as a visual person I've collected a library of images in my mind waiting until the day when everything coalesces."

When that happens, layers and layers of felt and silk and myriad fabrics are tightly stitched and cajoled to create exuberant surfaces embellished with those words and images flowing and blending into a unique narrative vessel.

"I love working with fabric," explains Khan, whose mother sewed and instilled in her a passion  for mastering the art of a sewing machine. "It took me a long time to figure out how I was going to use it to build something beautiful and powerful, " says Khan, who moved to Santa Fe 22-years ago and shows her gorgeous work at CHIAROSCURO Contemporary Art on Canyon Road. 

That's where we met. I was gallery hopping one afternoon and was mesmerized by one of her vessels; by coincidence she was in the gallery and we were introduced. I asked if I could 'shoot' her studio and she graciously said yes. She lives a bit out of town in a wonderful two-story adobe house that was built by the owner as his studio.  When he moved overseas, says Khan, he left charming bits of his artwork in the house like the trompe l'oeil curtain cascading down a wall on the first floor.

Khan's studio is on the second floor and it's huge, filled with sitting and working spaces and lots and lots of light.

Fabric is everywhere - in baskets, drawers, cabinets - squirreled-away until each piece wends its way into one of Khan's vibrant vessels. 

And, every surface displays a finished piece.

Khan has just delivered five new works to CHIAROSCURO, and all are filled with  what gallerist James Rutherford calls interactive naratives. 

"She incorporates words or phrases into each piece that often trigger a memory and establishes a wonderful interplay with visitors." 

"Her work is so unique. I've never seen anything like it," says Rutherford, who refers to it as Sui Generis, Latin for being the only example of its kind.

Singular praise indeed!


702 1/2 Canyon Rd. - Santa Fe, NM


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